Early Intervention Lisburn carried out a consultation to hear directly from young people what matters to them. 236 young people living in Lisburn participated in the consultation either through focus groups or responding to an online questionnaire. They were asked:

  • What issues and challenges do young people growing up in Lisburn currently face?
  • Do young people feel they have a voice and how is this responded to?
  • What would improve young people’s life experiences?

The consultation highlighted that young people in Lisburn felt there were few spaces for them to hang out, there was a lack of sports provision and they felt strongly that the environment in relation to litter and graffiti could improve. Other concerns expressed were the increase use of drugs and abuse of alcohol, bullying and peer pressure with the added pressure of social media making it difficult to get a break from such issues.
Mental health was a significant concern for young people with not enough services available to help when needed. They expressed a need to talk more to people that they trust about how they feel and reduce the taboo of mental health. The young people stated that they are not listened to enough especially by politicians and they would value the opportunity to have their views taken into consideration.

It was on this basis that Early Intervention Lisburn led a political engagement held in Parkview Special School on Thursday 8th November 2018. 26 young people from the Youth Council, Resurgam Trust youth service, YMCA youth service and Youth Initiatives Lisburn attended the event. The political panel was made up of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, and 4 local MLA’s Paul Givan DUP, Edwin Poots DUP, Trevor Lunn Alliance and Robbie Butler UUP. The engagement was facilitated by Professor Peter Shirlow FAcSS, Director of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool. The Right Worshipful the Mayor of LCCC Counsellor Uel Mackin made the opening remarks.

What difference did it make?
The politician’s agreed that they need to become more relevant to young people if they want them to vote or engage in politics. The young people were encouraged to engage with the politicians on Twitter/Facebook, to voice their issues and views which would inform the local politician’s opinions and decisions. The Mayor of Lisburn & Castlereagh Counsellor Uel Mackin invited the young people to visit his chamber for a further discussion. The political panel agreed that this was a starting point and further engagements would continue with young people in Lisburn and a round table discussion is planned for the New Year.

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